MEMOIR: LIFE ON A SHOESTRING

July 19, 2014 at 7:45 pm Leave a comment

Once, while listening to NPR, I heard a report on credit cards. The report stated that the average person has thirteen credit cards and carries about eight thousand dollars in debt. This was some time ago; I hope the numbers have improved. I must admit, that there are times when I have trouble getting my wallet in my back pocket because of all the potential debt lingering in there, but try to keep it under control. On hearing this broadcast, my mind wandered back to my youth, a time when people had the mindset that it was not so much that you lived without but you lived with what they could afford. It was a time less of envy and more of survival.

For most of my youth, credit cards did not exist. They started flourishing in the 60’s, so when I was young, they were not even an option. For paying bills, my parents didn’t have a checking account. When there was a bill that needed to be paid I was sent to the drugstore to buy a money order. It was the only way my family sent money through the mail.

In my neighborhood, credit was not as much a way of life as it is today. People lived on what they could afford. With the exception of houses and cars, you bought what you could pay for then and there. I must admit just writing about life without credit seems so foreign and unreal. Buying just what you can afford at the time of purchase seems like such and odd concept, yet that is the way it once was.

The way a person received their pay was also different in my youth.   Friday afternoons, my dad was home from working at the tannery for hours, but he had to return Friday afternoons to get his pay. I would sometimes take a ride with him. You could smell his place of employment long before you could see it – Ocean Leather – gaining this name due to the fact that it was the only tannery at that time that could tan shark skins. We would drive around to the loading dock where drums of chemicals stood, the soil, stained shades of purple and green, was soil of an OSHA nightmare. Into the building we would go, past large rooms where various stages of tanning was taking place, and into the office. Here my dad was handed a brown envelope with bills and change and that was his pay. That’s the way people were paid back then, you actually held your pay in your hand. It was not electronically sent to your bank from which you electronically paid your bills. You were able to hold what you earned, actually see it.

Friday was also allowance day for me.   For completing my choirs, I received fifty cents a week, and when I could really control my spending – not wanting another airplane model or book – I turned those quarters into a dollar bill, real folding money, which I would immediately take to the cellar and hide – I don’t know why. To this day I can still recall the feeling that, with a quarter, I had money. With a quarter in my pocket, I’m okay. How things have changed, and how I remain the same. It doesn’t take much to make me happy.

During my younger days I remember my dad saying, “Always keep two dollars in my wallet or else I could be arrested for vagrancy. If the police only knew how often I walk around with an empty wallet these days I could easily wind up behind bars, aha, but there is the MAC card and all my other credit cards with their lines of credit that keep me out of jail but could lead to the poorhouse.

 

 

Entry filed under: BIO, memoir, OBSERVATIONS & OPINIONS, Walt Trizna, WALT'S OBSERVATIONS, WALT'S OPINIONS.

STRUGGLING TO GET IT WRITE: THE KEEN OBSERVER MEMOIR: PRESERVING YOUR PERSONAL HISTORY

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